Sunday, 25 October 2015

Christianity is an opt-in kind of thing (and how this relates to Hell)

I regard it as a fundamental error (although often genuinely well-intentioned) to argue theologically that Christianity, the Christian world view, is a non-optional reality. Christianity is, of course, true - and in that limited sense non-optional - but there is a tendency for apologists and theologians to assume that outside Christianity is only nonsense and evil.

But Christianity is, and always has been, an opt-in kind of thing. Someone can only become a Christian by choice, by faith - and choice cannot be compelled (or else it would not be choice) - so for Christians there is no such thing as a 'forced conversion'; it is an oxymoron - or a delusion.

But some of the wrong ideas are driven by fear of Hell, and the mistaken belief that there are only two options - Heaven or Hell - and that outside Christianity is only Hell (I mean Hell in the New Testament sense of a place of post-mortal everlasting torment).

The background assumption, which I regard as false, is that Hell is everything outside-of Christianity, and always has been. The idea that Christianity is and always has been the only escape from Hell.

This is, I think, a consequence of that philosophical view which sees reality as out-of-time - and everything existing then, now and always. So by this view, God's creation is once for all, from nothing.

(All this leads to the problem of omnipotence - I mean the nonsensical, incoherent consequences of assuming the omnipotence of God, when omnipotence is assumed to be absolute and mathematical, rather than quantitative. The greatness of God becomes regarded as infinite; and for Christians God is wholly Good - so when everything has been created from nothing by an omnipotent and wholly-Good God, then this implies that everything must be seen as wholly Good - past, present and future; here and everywhere and in all things must be wholly Good. There is no place for sin... yet Christianity is about redemption from sin, Christ came to save sinners - so where does sin come from? Free will is required to 'explain' sin. But free will can, in this scheme, only be a gift from God - when God is said to be omnipotent and to have created everything. So free will does not solve the problem of where evil comes from, in a universe created from nothing by an infinite omnipoent and wholly-good God. This, then, is the problem of omnipotence, as defined by Classical theology - the problem that it renders Christianity incoherent.) 

But if instead we take the (Mormon) view that God's creation is not a matter of making everything from nothing; but a matter of shaping, ordering, organizing primal chaos, a continuing process - then God's creation is more like an expanding island of order and meaning in a primordial chaos.

So the original condition of reality before creation was not evil, but chaotic; not evil in intent but lacking in intent.

And creation remains partial, albeit growing.

And Good is a property of God's creation. 

The domain of evil is the domain of the intention to destroy Good (evil is the purposive destruction of Good) - so evil came after creation.

Hell came after Heaven - and in a sense Hell came after Christ, because only after Christ was God's plan known such that it could intentionally be opposed.

(In the Old Testament - there is no torment of Hell but rather the loss of selfhood of Sheol - which is essentially conceptualized as being the same as Hades - viz an unorganized underworld of chaos.)

Evil therefore exists within God's domain, within God's creation - and not outside of it. (Because outwith God's domain is not evil, but chaos.) So, evil dwells entirely within God's domain and tries to destroy it.

The evilness of Evil is that of inflicting misery, taking joy in misery - a state of misery that want others to become like itself. Thus, evil is not irrational - but a choice.

Evil is not even incoherent - except in the limited sense of preferring incoherence to order.

The motivation for evil creatures is a desire to destroy Good because Good is not wholly themselves, but comes from God - this is pride. Or, even beyond this, a purely negative hatred of order, good, happiness - not a love of chaos (that makes no sense, because with chaos there is nothing remaining that is capable of love) - but a desire for universal extinction, for loss of awareness not just personal but imposed on all, loss of self-hood from the universe.

(A desire for personal extinction - that is, for oneself to return to chaos - is not evil; it is merely a choice - the personal choice not to participate in God's plan. But to preach the desirability of universal destruction, for destruction of others and everything - that is evil: to preach the goodness of extinction/ destruction of order, meaning, purpose, relations as a universal goal - that is evil.)

(The ultimate defeat of evil by Good is therefore not a consequence of God's supposed omnipotence; but a consequence of the self-weakening effect of evil enacted as a universal project for destruction of order. When evil is directed against the self it can succeed. But the more universal evil becomes, the more thoroughly evil succeeds, the more it weakens itself. Even a tiny last residue of purposeful self-growing order will be stronger than a vast sea of incoherent disorder.)

God is therefore responsible for evil - in the limited sense that there can only be evil after there is Good; and there can only be Good in the domain of God's creation.

Evil is the purposive un-doing of God's creation.

Back to choice. Christianity is chosen; and evil is the choice to oppose, to destroy, God's creation. Hell is the fate of those who, from reasons of Pride, choose actively to destroy Good - the conscious wreckers of created order.

Hell is therefore chosen, always chosen (not a 'judgement' in the modern sense of a judge sentencing a prisoner without regard for the prisoner's wishes) - because everybody knows Good - everybody being part of Good; and it is always a choice to oppose and destroy Good.